NEW ORLEANS — The NFL Players Association has asked a federal judge for a temporary restraining order that would allow players suspended in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation to rejoin their teams in time to play regular-season openers.
The union, which filed the motion Tuesday on behalf of Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, argues the players will suffer irreparable harm if they are forced to miss games while their case against the league proceeds.
Despite his suspension, Fujita has repeatedly said he is confident that he'll be able to play in Week 1.
The Browns host the Philadelphia Eagles at 1 p.m. Sunday in their opener. If Fujita does not play, undrafted rookie linebacker L.J. Fort will likely start in his place. Rookie James-Michael Johnson, a fourth-round pick, would have filled in for Fujita, but he is sidelined with an oblique injury.
Suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma had already filed a similar motion when his full-season suspension began earlier. The other three players' suspensions began this week, and Fujita has since been forced to stay away from the Browns' headquarters in Berea.
The players ultimately want their suspensions thrown out because they argue the disciplinary process was fundamentally flawed and unfair.